WASHINGTON —  Retired U.S. Navy Adm. Craig Steidle is taking the helm of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF), becoming the 5-year-old organization’s first full-time president, effective May 15. An announcement was made April 13 at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The former director of the Pentagon’s Joint Strike Fighter program joined NASA in 2004 as the first associate administrator of the then-newly created Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Steidle was one of several retired flag officers with little or no space experience to take senior positions at NASA during the administration of President George W. Bush.

“We could not have found a more qualified candidate to lead the Commercial Spaceflight Federation than Admiral Steidle,” Eric Anderson, Space Adventures chief executive and chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, said in a statement. “He is a true visionary who knows that commercial spaceflight is the key to unlocking humanity’s future in space, and he is a proven manager and engineer who understands what is necessary to make our dream of becoming a true space-faring people a reality.”

Steidle will succeed Brett Alexander, who has served as the Washington-based advocacy organization’s president since December 2006.

Brian Berger is editor in chief of SpaceNews.com and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined SpaceNews.com in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. His reporting on the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident was...